Asked 9 months ago - New York, NYFlag
The countries are Germany and Switzerland. Is it possible to collect judgement from these countries and how do we do it?
Do we have to get the autorities or lawyers in these countries involved too?
Two people we have a judgement against are citizens of Germany and one a citizen of Switzerland. Do we have to go to both countries?
What kind of costs are further involved?
The judgement is definitely big enough to go after. Is it easy for the individuals to hide their assets in these countries? They are business owners.
What do we do?
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You are going to have to get the judgments "domesticated" in both Germany and Switzerland, and under the conventions applicable to each country, you are also going to have to get whatever you're domesticating translated into (a) German and (b) if the Swiss party is not in a "designated" German speaking Canton of Switzerland, either French or Italian. Translating one of these things isn't cheap, and it has to be certified by a licensed translator (no, you can't use the Google translator for this.).
Many attorneys use overseas referral services to locate counsel in countries other than the US. One such group is the International Lawyers Network (www.ilntoday), and another is Terralex (www.terralex.com). No warranties as to the quality of the attorneys on these sites, but they are a good place to start.
You are facing very complicated legal problem involving foreign law and foreign courts, and you are embarking on “money-spending Odyssey.” I am not endeavoring even to commence discussion regarding possibility of enforcement of the US judgment in the Swiss courts. However, I have seen prior endeavors in which the German courts render a high reverence to the US judgment. However, legal procedure of recognition of the US judgment in Germany and of subsequent enforcement of the US judgment is highly technical and must be handled by local German legal practitioners called “Rechtsanwalte” (attorneys at law). The best possible practical approach for you is to either contact the US multinational law forms such as e.g Baker & McKenzie with law offices all over the world. Yet, it may be extremely costly proposition. Another practical solution is to contact German attorneys directly. There is plethora of multi-national solo practitioners practicing in Germany and in the USA simultaneously. One thing to remember: many foreign courts may require you to post the bond to initiate recognition and subsequent enforcement of the US judgment. Another point to remember is that European Union lawyers are required to collect special additional tax on rendition of legal services. Anyway, you have to expect a lot of expenditures. Good luck.
The other responders have given you a good idea of what is involved in going overseas and the need to get a foreign court to issue an Order or judgment recognizing the U.S. judgment for enforcement purposes. If not done already, you should also consider doing as exhaustive a credit and asset check on the defendants to see if there they have any assets in the U.S. that you may be able to attach - which will be conceivably easier than going abroad.
I conduct constantly legal business with several European countries and have colleagues in Germany and Switzerland. Feel free to give me a call so we can discuss your case and I can put you in contact with some of them overseas. I can tell you exactly the costs associated with this. T 212-430-0327. LCMM
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